Besides connecting with friends, Facebook is fast becoming the place to watch videos. Billions of videos.
Facebook is now serving up more than 4 billion videos to its users daily, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Wednesday. The figure is striking in part because it's increasing so fast: In January, Facebook was showing 3 billion videos a day.
"Video is a big opportunity for us," COO Sheryl Sandberg said during Facebook's quarterly earnings call. Besides being a way for users to share content, it's a way for marketers to advertise on the site.
One reason Facebook's viewing count is so high is that videos uploaded to Facebook now play automatically. Facebook defines a view as three seconds or more, so people are likely to rack up views just scrolling through their news feed. Still, it's an indication of how much video is on the site.
The 4 billion figure includes both user content and advertisements. Facebook started letting marketers publish video ads that play automatically in late 2013.
Last year, Facebook tweaked its algorithm to show more relevant videos, taking into account how many people watched a video and for how long, as well as just likes, comments and shares.
And earlier this year, Facebook acquired QuickFire Networks, whose processing and transcoding technology reduces the bandwidth needed to watch video online.
Facebook didn't say on Wednesday how much of the video increase comes from ads versus user-uploaded content. But it does see video as a critical medium for advertising, as it looks to siphon ad spending dollars away from YouTube and traditional TV.
Facebook's total revenue for the quarter ended March 31 was US$3.54 billion, up more than 40 percent from last year. Nearly three-quarters of its sales were derived from ads placed on mobile devices. The company says it has more than 2 million active advertisers.
More than 75 percent of Facebook's video views occur on mobile devices, the company said Wednesday. Facebook now has 1.44 billion users who log in every month, up 13 percent from last year, it said.